Q: I raise a variety of birds, both parrot types and finches. I am always cleaning up after my birds, and hand-feed the breeder birds and babies. I worry when using cleaners around my birds, because many chemicals are not safe and can cause problems for pets. I mostly use a safe, liquid disinfectant (Novasan) for cleaning all my bird utensils, such as water and feed bowls, and hand-feeding tools. Sometimes, things need a bit of “elbow” power and I use a powder household cleanser for that extra cleaning. I rinse everything very well to remove all soap and soap smell, but I still worry if it is safe to use powder cleansers. They work so well for stubborn dirt spots. What do you use when you need extra scrubbing power?
First of all, I, too, use a safe disinfectant for cleaning all bird utensils, bowls, cages, pans, perches, brooders, incubators and hand-feeding tools. I also use it to wash walls in the bird rooms. I use sponges with a scrub side, a bristle hairbrush and toothbrushes for scrubbing various bird utensils. I also soak the bird bowls and feeding tools, if things need extra cleaning, in a bleach solution (1 teaspoon of household bleach to a gallon of warm water). No soap at all is added to this soaking solution. Do not mix household soap (liquid dish soap) and bleach together in water, because it can create a toxic vapor.
But, when items need something extra for scrubbing off stubborn grime, I use plain old baking soda. I keep a large salt shaker bottle on the sink filled with dry baking soda. (Use a shaker bottle with a lid, because baking soda can cake up and get hard due to moisture in the air). Baking soda powder cleans very well, will scrub off almost any stubborn dirt and is completely safe! There is never any soap smell or worry of possible soap residue. I actually use it for cleaning many of our food utensils as well, like coffeepots, coffee mugs, and food storage jars — both plastic and glass. It cleans almost anything and makes things look and smell clean, unlike cleaners. For those small areas that need scrubbing, try baking soda and a toothbrush. I either sprinkle on baking soda, or have some baking soda in a bowl and dip the toothbrush bristles into the powder and brush, as you would do brushing your teeth. It really cleans hand-feeding tools, even in the tiny crevices!